No one wants to be surrounded by conflict. When we have a conflict, at the least we have to work harder; at the worst, we get wrapped up in an emotional maelstrom. We have so many memories of the turmoil that surrounds a conflict, that most of us will avoid it if we possibly can.
Pause and consider with me: conflict can be healthy and help the team to better work. Conflict is good on your team if:
- The conflict leads to a discussion about the best way to proceed.
- The members of your team share information.
- The members discuss differences in a dignified process.
- Members of the team come to understand how everyone has specialized knowledge.
- The leader is seen to facilitate discussion fairly, not choose sides.
- At the end of the discussion, members have a greater appreciation for the work done by the other members.
Give out extra tokens of appreciation if the members of your team find ways to help each other move through obstacles because of the discussion.
Leaders, you are critical in helping to set the tone for healthy constructive conflict. Help the individuals on your team share information, rather than fight. Tell the members of your team, you expect a respectful discussion. Coach your team to challenge the facts and the issues, not each other.
One more thing: help your team celebrate. Set the standard high; tell your team that you expect them to learn and to solve problems creatively. Then lead the celebration. Look for opportunities to recognize emerging leaders in your team. Present a united face of solidarity to your boss, pointing out how you meet challenges and become more productive when you do that.
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